A SECRETIVE Russian mercenary group are believed to have fought alongside the regular troops in Syria, allowing Moscow to reduce the number of official servicemen.
The men in the private militia called Wagner fought alongside President Vladimir Putin�s regular army personnel in Syria against the opponents of the country�s president Bashir al-Assad.
It is believed that at least 150 people have died fighting for the �ghost army� but relatives of those who have ben killed in the conflict are now complaining about being kept in the dark about the circumstances.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 mercenaries, about half the size of Russia�s official military contingent in Syria, are thought to have been inside the middle eastern country at peak moments since Mr Putin announced military operations in September 2015.
Wagner units are understood to have played a role in key battles against Islamic State (ISIS) forces whilst working under the wing of Russia�s armed forces.
However the existence of Wagner is denied by the Russian defence ministry who keep its operations secret.